Alva Review-Courier -

Giving is a tradition in this area


My three-year-old great granddaughter sat demurely in the church pew, munching thoughtfully on slender pretzel sticks. Carefully she selected two sticks from her sandwich bag. Edging past my knees, she presented the pair to her mother, whispering that one was for her mom and the other for her one-year-old brother. Her mama explained brother was too young for the treat but ate one while thanking her child.

I’m glad to see the habit of sharing being passed to the next generation. It’s a habit instilled in much of our population here in the heartland of America. We are lucky to live in a region that believes in giving and sharing. I know this habit prevails throughout the Newsgram coverage area, but I’m most familiar with instances in Alva and Woods County.

Monday night at the Alva City Council meeting, Police Chief Ben Orcutt presented two Kids & Cops scholarships in honor of Gary Sanderson, his predecessor. Sanderson was also present as Ali Harzman and Ron Vasquez Jr. received the scholarships.

Kids & Cops began with local officers seeking donations to take some kids shopping for Christmas gifts as a way to show youngsters that officers are approachable and friendly. In just a few years, donations have multiplied. A summer family-friendly gathering in the park was added. And now there are scholarships.

Recently I interviewed Alva Fire Chief Kirk Trekell who is retiring. He said his best memory is the way people stepped up to help his department raise over $75,000 in one year. Matched by the Charles Morton Share Trust (another generous giver), the money paid for a new ladder truck for the department. By the way, Trekell is still officially the chief until September, but he’s using up his accumulated vacation time until then.

It seems everywhere I look, there are people helping. The Goldbug Gulp and Gallop summer lunch program is providing meals for youngsters through July. While funding comes through programs such as the food bank, they also accept local donations. And they have a core group of volunteers who give their time organizing and handing out the meals.

The Woods County Senior Citizens are also providing meals to the older generation. Although the center is closed due to the pandemic, the meals are available for pickup. Those who can are asked to donate $3 per meal to help with costs, but it’s not required. Director Edith Wiebener said the numbers served have increased from around 60 to about 90 per day. The center is also aided by a number of people who donate time and money.

The Blessing Boxes are another way people help in Alva. Boxes are located at Lincoln Elementary School, the First Christian Church and behind A Cut Above. A number of people make it a priority to stock these boxes with easy to prepare foods and other necessities for those experiencing hardship to pick up anonymously. There’s a donation box set up at Alva’s Market where people can place their change for items to go into these boxes.

The newly established Goldbug Education Coalition is buying school supplies for all Alva students from pre-K through middle school this fall. The coalition was the beneficiary of Bank It, another giving opportunity. The Bank It board chooses one worthy cause per quarter for their program. Matching funds are donated by local banks to increase the impact.

The Bank It project for July through September is Woods County Emergency Management. They hope to raise enough funds to purchase 16 AED (automated external defibrillator) machines for each emergency agency in Woods County with a goal of $27,500. (See the ad in this Newsgram.)

The Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation receives donations from all over the country to provide scholarships to students. Businesses and individuals contribute to the annual scholarship drives. The university also benefits through the establishment of chairs and donations for special projects.

Then there are the many fundraisers in the area as student groups work to pay for extracurricular travel costs. These include sports teams, music groups, speech groups and more. The FFA holds a Blue and Gold Sausage sale. The Boy Scouts sell popcorn. And who can pass up the Girl Scout cookies?

Just by shopping in Alva, people are benefiting others. A portion of the sales tax collected supports Share Medical Center. Other sales tax goes to NWOSU scholarships and to benefit the Alva Recreation Complex. Alfalfa County just passed a sales tax that will help county emergency services.

Many of these wonderful programs also offer the chance to volunteer time and skills. How would our communities celebrate July 4th without volunteers?

Even if you don’t have money to spare or time to volunteer, there are opportunities. I still remember Alva businesswoman Annabelle Shafer who regularly sent notes of encouragement and thanks when she noticed someone doing good in the community. We can stop and visit with a neighbor, thank a volunteer at an event or post an encouraging message on social media. Let’s keep sharing and helping. There are opportunities all around us if we just look.


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